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May I Borrow Your Pen?

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I want to know where all the pens go.

Every month I buy a new box of them. Not the box of six. The box of twenty. I used to buy nice ones. I read reviews. I asked around. I tested them. I weighed them in my hand like a #$%^%$#ing broadsword and I asked myself “is this a pen I want to spend some time with?” “Is this a pen I can do some damage with?”

Now, I just buy the cheap ones. There’s no point. We’re never going to have a relationship.

But I’m trying to understand.

I have a lovely office that I work in 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time I work on the couch. Pens are not allowed on the couch because they are sharp as #$%^%$#ing broadswords and might pierce the couch’s surface. So I have no reason to take the pens from my office.

office panorama

That leaves Lover and Thing 1 and Thing 2. Things 1 & 2 are recently literate and Lover has been literate since I’ve known him, so it’s not inconceivable that they could be pen-stealers. Only the Lover has his own desk with his own pen can. I looked. Do you know what’s in it?

Pen caps.

Because sure as snot drips downhill there aren’t pens in it. Wherever my pens are going, his are on their way there as well.

This morning, I was so certain that Things 1 & 2 were to blame that I tossed their rooms (they are still young enough that tossing their rooms is considered culturally and psychologically acceptable)(i.e. any time under age 32). I looked under their mattresses. I looked in their closets. I looked underneath Thing 2’s rat cage and on top of Thing 1’s bookshelf.

I found a pen cap in Thing 1’s room under her ninja outfit, but it didn’t match any of my pens. It was pink and glittery. Thing 1 hasn’t possessed anything pink and glittery for over a year, not since she decided to become a ninja veterinarian. So this was a cap for a long-ago pen. Without much hope, I searched for the rest of the pen, but it was nowhere in evidence.

All I had proven was that wherever my pens were going, Lover’s pens were also there, and so were Thing 1’s.

I sat down and had a think about this. Actually I sat down at the dentist’s office and had a think about it. I thought about it for an hour in the waiting room and then I thought about it while they extracted two teeth and then I thought about it after I had returned home to sit in my office chair, wishing I had a pen.

Here we go.

Pens are time-travelers. That’s the only explanation. In some future time that none of us have gotten to, the world is made of pens. It is like a hideous Dali-Shakespeare-H.G.Wells landscape where the horizon is formed of tidal slopes of Bics, Papermates, and Staedtlers, rolling about in plastic, pigment, and spring-powered carcasses. Overhead an anemic sun the color of an egg yolk weeps a dry eye for humanity. You know why?

Because paper isn’t a time traveler.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and I have to agree. If I hung #$%^%$#ing broadsword on my wall, it would stay there. I hang a pen in the same place, and I guarantee you, this time tomorrow, that’s pen’s gone. To the future.

Which is where I’m headed now. Just, um. Slower.

  • Maurício Dias

    It’s me. I keep stealing them. kkkkk =D

    I sent an envelope with a little note for you! With address of a friend who lives in the U.S. for you to send the bookplates.


  • Babloo

    My pens are there as well. I even found a note from one on my desk drawer. I think he misses me. But I love your blogs, on a serious note.

  • Maggie,
    Your pen is mightier than any sword. It cuts to the point about just where all the pens go I have wondered if htey had legs but now I finally know because of your wonderful insite that they are time travelers. Can we make a travel machine to bring them all back????
    I love your whit!

  • Noella

    Even though I’m long past the days of actual desks with empty middles to put things in, the pens and pencils disappear on a regular basis. I remember an assistant teacher giving me a pen in elementary or middle school, saying that I would need as many as I could get, because they always found a way to disappear. Luckily the frequency of this has lowered, but at the end of this semester some of my pens were gone… I used to blame my mother, which sometimes was true but usually not. But I usually blame my mother if I couldn’t find something in 30 seconds.

    I suppose at some point we will all have to face reality and just start writing all of our important documents in blood.

  • Mine are there too. Heehee!

  • Tracy Shupe

    …this is why you are so awesome. That was the greatest homework distraction I have ever read. Lol

  • Leanne Bridges

    You’re amazing. You crack me up.

  • Celia

    Papermate Retractable Rollerball gel pens, the ones with the white-gray clipy bit. I used to work as a scribe in an ER and a doc recommended them to me knowing I went through pens like clean underwear and these were awesome and cheap. Maybe I get one bad pen out of every forty, but they’re still my faves in med school. No caps to become tragically separated from their pens and economical enough for the kids to make a pen fort. Never mind, prob too sharp, bad idea….

  • Maya

    When I first read this, I thought “She keeps Thing 2 in a rat cage?”
    My bad.

  • lalibrarylady86

    Did the pens ever really exist? Or do you just think they did?

    (P.S. I love your stories, but PAYBACK.)

  • Riley Zilm

    I have the same problem! And I’m only in my third year of highschool. I often lack pens when we’re about to start a notetaking lesson or start a test. 😛
    Also, from the many times I’ve seen that photo of your office, only now have I realised that you have rolling ladders. I. Am. Jealous.

  • LOL! I think my stylus/pens are traveling with your pens. Hard to coordinate your stylus with your clothes when they “walk” away. ; D

  • Roni O’Connell

    Do me a favor? When you find your pens, mail me my socks.

  • Knitting needles must also be time travelers. This goes for sewing needles, straight pins, and glue sticks as well.

  • Clara Oswin Oswald

    Now that I think about it, you are bloody right, Maggie, because all of my pens have dissapeared, too! But what’s scary is that if they can travel forward in time then… gasp… they can travel BACK in time! Be prepared for the Invasion of the Pens. It is coming.

    Also, Maggie, you would make a great Whovian. Just saying…

  • Maggie,
    I recommend InkJoy pens. They are decently priced, write smoothly and pleasantly, and come in fun colors.

    But they still disappear.

    My personal theory is that there is a black hole in the bottom of my purse. Mostly I lose pens through it… but also Chapstick, gum, and small important pieces of paper. They’ve probably gone off to have a surfing holiday on your tidal slopes of Bic.

  • Maggie, were your pens Bic’s pens For Her?

    (Check the reviews, they are funny).
    If yes, then perhaps yours have gone shopping. Lover’s pens For Him may be out felling trees…

    Otherwise they are all with my single socks…

  • Jocelyne

    The solution is simple, Maggie. I’m surprised that you didn’t realize it earlier.
    Many, but not all, houses have them. Mine steal just about everything (mostly food and socks and important memos), and my friends seem to have the same breed in their house. Yours, on the other hand, seem to have a particular affinity for pen hiding/stealing.
    Now not to worry; the gnomes are harmless. Yes, it is an invasion, but they’re very subtle. They just like a good laugh.
    “Invasion?” you say?
    The Gnome Invasion, Maggie. It’s about time you knew about it.

    P.S.: are there any bookplates left? I got The Raven Boys for Christmas (as I’d predicted). 🙂

  • Isabella

    Psh. Time travel? They obviously are forming an underground colony in a graveyard where they will invade dead carcasses and create a whole pen-people army and the leader will be controlled by only your pens, because only those pens are awesome enough. Also, can you tell me when requiem is coming out? I’ve just been going online like every day looking up the same thing over and over, hoping for an exact day-ish-type-thing. I’ve seen 2014, 2013, and fall 2013.

  • When you find your pens, can you look around and see if they are harboring my older son’s missing (and esxpensive) Columbia glove, which he lost here last Christmas – IN THE HOUSE – and which has never been seen again? And I cured people from walking off with the pen by the phone in the kitchen by taping a large silk flower to the tip with neon duct tape. No one even likes to *look* at it, let alone take it. Problem solved. Now, if I could only figure out where Mike’s glove went….

  • Maybe it is a Looper-type thing, and the pens are going back to the past. I’m not sure what is coming that is … “better” but I am always on the lookout for a good pen. I like Pentel Sign Pens but they’re not cheap and I often forget where I hide them from the kids which renders them useless.

  • Jami

    Em suggests your dog has ammassed an army of pens in the backyard. But I suspect there’d be a tell tale trail of ink around the dog’s mouth if that were the case. So I’m going to say gremlins.

  • The pens have gone to the same place all the odd socks go.

    Seriously, socks just run away!

  • Cindy

    Maggie, I’m pretty sure they’ve transported themselves to my house, where they are hanging out with all the pens I’ve picked up from hotels, vendors, etc. My pen cups are overflowing. If time travel demands that the space they occupy be compensated for with something of equal weight, would you mind checking your kitchen drawers to see if my lids for cans of dog and cat food are there?

  • Perhaps your pens are like mini Gryffindor swords that disappear when not in possession of their rightful owners, as they did when Griphook took possession of Godric’s sword. Really, I think you need to find the Maggie Stiefvater broadswords that will stick around when you’re not looking, rather than fade away as they find their rightful owners.

    For what it’s worth, my broadsword happens to be a Pilot G-2 0.5, which is unfortunately, also the #$%^%$#ing broadsword of my Thing 3. As an aes sídhe, she carefully collects them for her personal use and then carries them with her to the Otherworld where I cannot follow. I don’t dare ask her to return them, however, for fear of facing her wrath.

  • Lisa Langdale

    Socks also live in the future. But never EVER in pairs.

  • Amy

    It might be the pack rats. They are real. My relatives have some one their farm. Or the animals. Or time travel…

  • Danielle Nguyen

    Do you watch Community? Because this all reminds me of a certain episode. Here’s a clip

  • Yeah, maybe you have a crazy stalker who enters your room when you’r not in and steals things like pens thinking you’ll not notice it *^*!
    It’s creepy, isn’t it ,’:>?

  • Don’t you have a cat? And multiple dogs? I would guess that’s what is happening to them. Mine steal stuff all the time. It’s really annoying. There is not a drinking straw to be found anywhere in my house… except maybe under the couch.

    Although, really, I like your explanation better.

  • Avery

    It all makes sense now! I finally know where all my pens are!! I hope one day I will be able to see them! My dad is always asking me “Where are all the pens?” Now I finally have an answer!

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if pens were time travellers, I also wouldn’t be surprised if socks were time travellers as well!

  • Cheddar cheese is what disappears from my house. And not in the obvious way (ingestion), but in an unexplainable fashion, similar to your situation, which baffles me. I buy a block of Tillamook extra-sharp, put it in my cheese drawer, and then when I go to retrieve said block at a later time (having not had one thin slice of the stuff, mind), it is invariably missing.

    I don’t have mice. I don’t gnaw through the block in my sleep. I constantly find myself bewildered.

  • Kaywenn

    The only thing I have to say to that:
    “Where do vanished objects go?”
    “Into non-being, which is to say, everything.”

    -J.K. Rowling (The Deathly Hallows) (If you didn’t know that already 😉 )

  • Rita

    Maggie, I feel bad for keeping my pen today, I should have just given it to you. Mine don’t seem to disappear.
    You made my day, week, month, year!
    Thanks again,
    Rita at the dentist

  • Anonymous

    It seems that there is other dimensions somewhere… multiple portals for our stuff to travel elsewhere, in their afterlife. There is Time Portals in washing machines — small ones — and Time Portals in dryers — big ones, where socks disapear (why only socks???). There are some more on the writers’ desks where pens go for a rest — might be pretty tiresome (work a lot on overtime) and frightening to be a writer’s pen. There is also many portals for notes and stickies and little pieces of paper on which important stuff is written.
    We live in a multidimensional world and we just imagine that our “things” are inanimated… but they are just faking it, they are giving us the illusion they are lifeless while they control our emotions.
    Yes, they are! Just remember the last time you realized that one of your favorite socks gone missing? That your so wonderfuly cheap pen disappeared just at the exact moment you needed her the most. Remember when you got crazy mad searching for that darn piece of paper on which you had written an important, vital note. You know you put it in your daytimer but it disappeared, just like that… and just to tease you… it reappears suddenly, days or weeks after, in a weird and absolutely illogical place in your house.
    After studying the matters for many years now, I arrived to this conclusion. Our houses/offices/cars/and else are crowded with Time Portals and the inanimated objects surrounding us are not so inanimated. They look like, they want us to believe they are but it is just an illusion.
    Maybe we should try to talk to them, maybe they are tired to be considered as “things” and they disapear because they are depressed and they go elsewhere in hope they will be happier?

  • Amyah

    Oooops! Sorry, I am not anonymous, just missed the name and email buttons 😀

  • Rebecca

    I think I’m finding them. I literally have a whole drawer full of various pens and pencils that I’ve found, and I never use the all. I have so many that at one point I would carry a bag of them to school to sell, but I’m so soft hearted I just gave them to anyone who asked

  • They’re with the socks. ^_^

  • Personally, I believe that pens are disappearing down the black hole under the bush in the garden and ending up on the other side of a wormhole in a planet where people eat nothing but celery, but that’s only because I was overly influenced by the books my older sister lent me when I was twelve.

    It would explain a lot, though. Pens, ink cartridges, wires for electrical appliances you actually use (wires you don’t use spontaneously turn up…) and the lids for plastic bottles. All gone.

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Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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